Gov. Nixon, Lt. Gov Kinder win re-election in Missouri

Gov. Jay Nixon cruised to victory Tuesday, defeating his Republican opponent to earn a second term in office.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Nixon was leading Dave Spence 54 percent to 43 percent.

The results came as little surprise. Polling in the race had Nixon with commanding leads over Spence for several months.

“Today at the ballot box, Missourians voiced their support for putting the people’s business above the petty politics that divides us,” Nixon said at his victory party in St. Louis.

In a state that voted overwhelmingly for Republican Mitt Romney for president, Nixon managed to rack up a big margin by highlighting his bipartisan credentials and downplaying his party affiliation. His campaign ads emphasized working with GOP lawmakers, balancing the state’s budget and not raising taxes.

Spence, a St. Louis businessman who gave or loaned his campaign an estimated $6 million, attempted to paint Nixon as a corrupt career politician with a poor record on job creation.

In one of the stranger moments of the campaign, Spence went so far as to sue Nixon over a campaign ad that described the Republican as a banker who used part of a $40 million federal bank bailout to buy a vacation home.

In his second term, Nixon has vowed to rework the state’s system of tax credits that cost Missouri $627 million this year. He wants to transform them into new sources of revenue for things such as public schools and state universities.

Nixon also promised to push for comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reform, as well as a sweeping reorganization of state government — a task last completed in the early 1980s during Republican Gov. Kit Bond’s second term.

In other statewide races:

• Republican Peter Kinder defeated Democratic challenger Susan Montee to become the first lieutenant governor to serve three terms in the office since the 1940s. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Kinder had 50 percent to Montee’s 45 percent.

Kinder’s road to re-election included numerous bumps along the way. He endured a series of embarrassing headlines pertaining to repaying the state for questionable travel bills and a relationship with a former stripper. The stories caused him to drop an expected bid for governor and endure a bruising GOP primary.

• Democrat Jason Kander was narrowly leading Republican Shane Schoeller to become Missouri’s next secretary of state. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Kander had 48.2 percent to Schoeller’s 48.1 percent. The winner will replace Robin Carnahan, who decided against running for re-election.

• Incumbent Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, easily defeated Republican Ed Martin. Koster had 55 percent to Martin’s 41 percent.

• Incumbent Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat, beat Republican Cole McNary. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Zweifel had 50 percent to McNary’s 46 percent.